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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 25, 1996



By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in furtherance of the purposes of the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a), the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661), the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act (16 U.S.C. 668dd), the Refuge Recreation Act (16 U.S.C. 460k), the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531), the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act (16 U.S.C. 3901), the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 4401), the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321), and other pertinent statutes, and in order to conserve fish and wildlife and their habitat, it is ordered as follows:

Section 1. The Mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System ("Refuge System") is to preserve a national network of lands and waters for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, and plant resources of the United States for the benefit of present and future generations.

Sec. 2. Guiding Principles. To help ensure a bright future for its treasured national heritage, I hereby affirm the following four guiding principles for the management and general public use of the Refuge System:

     (a) Public Use.  The Refuge System provides important
          opportunities for compatible wildlife-dependent
          recreational activities involving hunting, fishing,
          wildlife observation and photography, and
          environmental education and interpretation.

     (b) Habitat.  Fish and wildlife will not prosper without
          high-quality habitat, and without fish and wildlife,
          traditional uses of refuges cannot be sustained.  The
          Refuge System will continue to conserve and enhance
          the quality and diversity of fish and wildlife habitat
          within refuges.

     (c) Partnerships.  America's sportsmen and women were
          the first partners who insisted on protecting
          valuable wildlife habitat within wildlife refuges.
          Conservation partnerships with other Federal agencies,
          State agencies, Tribes, organizations, industry, and
          the general public can make significant contributions
          to the growth and management of the Refuge System.

     (d) Public Involvement.  The public should be given a
          full and open opportunity to participate in decisions
          regarding acquisition and management of our National
          Wildlife Refuges.

     Sec. 3.  Directives to the Secretary of the Interior.  To the

extent consistent with existing laws and interagency agreements, the Secretary of the Interior, in carrying out his trustee and stewardship responsibilities for the Refuge System, is directed to:

     (a) recognize compatible wildlife-dependent recreational
          activities involving hunting, fishing, wildlife
          observation and photography, and environmental
          education and interpretation as priority general
          public uses of the Refuge System through which the
          American public can develop an appreciation for fish
          and wildlife;

     (b) provide expanded opportunities for these priority
          public uses within the Refuge System when they are
          compatible and consistent with sound principles of
          fish and wildlife management, and are otherwise in
          the public interest;

     (c) ensure that such priority public uses receive enhanced
          attention in planning and management within the Refuge

     (d) provide increased opportunities for families to
          experience wildlife-dependent recreation, particularly
          opportunities for parents and their children to safely
          engage in traditional outdoor activities, such as
          fishing and hunting;

     (e) ensure that the biological integrity and environmental
          health of the Refuge System is maintained for the
          benefit of present and future generations of

     (f) continue, consistent with existing laws and
          interagency agreements, authorized or permitted
          uses of units of the Refuge System by other Federal
          agencies, including those necessary to facilitate
          military preparedness;

     (g) plan and direct the continued growth of the
          Refuge System in a manner that is best designed
          to accomplish the mission of the Refuge System, to
          contribute to the conservation of the ecosystems of
          the United States, and to increase support for the
          Refuge System and participation from conservation
          partners and the public;

     (h) ensure timely and effective cooperation and
          collaboration with Federal agencies and State fish
          and wildlife agencies during the course of acquiring
          and managing National Wildlife Refuges;

     (i) ensure appropriate public involvement opportunities
          will be provided in conjunction with refuge planning
          and management activities; and

     (j) identify, prior to acquisition, existing compatible
          wildlife-dependent uses of new refuge lands that shall
          be permitted to continue on an interim basis pending
          completion of comprehensive planning.

     Sec. 4.  Judicial Review.  This order does not create any right or

benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its agencies, its officers, or any person.


                              THE WHITE HOUSE,
                              March 25, 1996.

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